The movie Pleasantville is very symbolic. It is a movie that could be interpreted a number of different ways. Most will agree, however, that the basic point of the movie concerns the subject of change.
But we can also see the movie as a modern version of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. From this point of view, Pleasantville depicted in black and white represents the cave, while color represents the world of enlightenment beyond the cave. Before David and Jennifer become Bud and Mary Sue, everything in Pleasantville is apparently perfect. Everyone lives their day-to-day lives without any problems.
Pleasantville seems to be a place of perfect bliss. Everyone in the little town lives a life of safety, happiness, but also ignorance. Outside of Pleasantville, there is disorder and unhappiness. At the beginning of the movie, David is the typical “loser” at school; he is unhappy with his life. His sister, Jennifer, is a promiscuous teen. All of these scenes are in color. In Pleasantville, however, before the town is ruined, everything appears in black and white, and all the people are apparently content with their lives. For example, nothing here can catch fire, and the firefighters only have to rescue cats out of trees.
The basketball team always wins and players on the team make every single shot. After David and Jennifer are introduced to the peaceful, harmonious town of Pleasantville, however, the flawless, isolated, but ignorant community is turned upside down and ruined. When Bud tells Skip that his sister wouldn’t want to go out with him, for example, Skip suddenly can’t make a shot, and is thus unhappy for the first time. When Betty Parker learns about sex, a tree catches fire, and funnily the firemen do not know what to do, and only respond when they think that there is a cat stuck in a tree. Towards the end of the movie, people start to riot.
They destroy the burger place, and they burn piles of books. There is total chaos and disorder. The original peaceful community is lost when the contagious disease of enlightenment, represented by color in this movie, is introduced. One could argue that this movie portrays change and enlightenment as a good thing, but there is also substantial evidence that this movie is showing change as a bad thing. The laws of entropy apply in this movie. Pleasantville exists in a delicate balance of perfect order, but when new things are introduced to throw off the balance, everything naturally turns to chaos and disorder.